Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Story - Mary Magdalene Revealed

I've had this book, Mary Magdalene Revealed by Meggan Watterson, sitting on my e-reader for quite some time. It can take ages for me to get through my To Be Read pile of physical and e-books! I'm so glad this book popped onto the "open and Read" portion of my brain.

This book feels like the missing link, for me, between religion and woo-woo, alternate spiritual practices. Let me try to explain.

Meggan Watterson's book explains how she interprets the Gospel Of Mary, one of the gnostic gospels that was discovered in the late nineteenth century, buried in Egypt. (You can find more info here).

I haven't read the Gospel itself, but I will need to.

According to Meggan Watterson's book, there were other teachings that Jesus Christ of Nazareth gave to his followers that are not included in the New Testament. The First Council of Nicea, held in 325CE, was a meeting of bishops who tried to find consensus for this fast-developing Christian religion. Many gospels were omitted from the Bible, and ordered destroyed but some monks who no doubt were as book-loving as me, could not destroy them, so buried them.

Why some were chosen and others weren't is subject to conjecture, as the reasons were not recorded (or have not been made known if they were). Looking at the Church now, the Catholic Church particularly, power may have been a major driver and so slanting the stories to give maximum control of the people to those 'in charge' was probably a reason.

Watterson is a theological scholar, with an interest in the Divine Feminine. So much of what she had searched for in the traditional Christian teachings, is what I've questioned throughout my life. My questions have been along these lines:
  • Why are women excluded from so much of the Church, when Jesus preached compassion (e.g. feeding masses with loaves and fishes) and equality (e.g. not casting stones)? 
  • Why is St Paul revered when he's so blatantly anti-women in so many of his letters, which always felt against the Jesus I thought I knew from the Gospels? 
  • Why was Peter the revered apostle, and first Pope, when he disowned Jesus three times?

I'm starting to get these answers reading this book. Answers to questions I've asked for 40 years LOL! I remember sitting with Fr T in his study, discussing Bible passages, and my incessant questioning had him chewing on the end of his pipe, sucking in deep breaths, and pausing as he framed an answer. I was in high school when he introduced me to his brother, also a priest but one who'd studied a lot of theology, and we had further discussions. This is years after I begged to be an altar boy, and scored becoming a reader instead (because girls were not allowed to serve on the altar - that has changed now!).

This book explains that Mary's descriptions of Jesus's teachings were about developing a deeper understanding about what love is, what self is, and that the world is a place to go deep into your heart and live in a way that tries to unite your humanity and your soul (or the spiritual).

And this then is the perfect link to paganism, so many Eastern religious teachings, the so-called New Age movement.

Religion is not a power game, a patriarchal system focussed on removing sin through suffering, punishment and penance.

It's truly about searching your inner being for flaws and trying to do better tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

It's about loving yourself, and loving everyone else. It's about seeing yourself as made from divine, therefore also divine, and trying to live to achieve that.

Religion has always felt like a power struggle for me, with so little focus on self and love - even though they were (for me anyway) the key messages of Jesus. This Gospel of Mary takes the power out of religion, and puts it back on self and love.

And truly, that feels like the real meaning of life.

Can I become the best person I can be? Can I love myself and others, fully?

Have you read this book?

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